2013 BOB Awards: Arts & Culture
Up-and-Coming Comedian, Chesney Goodson
Whether at his own expense or railing against some absurdity of adult life, Goodson’s material is always the funniest in the room.
Boris “Bluz” Rogers
Bluz (pronounced “blues”) is the dean of Charlotte’s slam poetry scene. With flowing locks, perfect timing, and a powerful voice, he’s fearless and mesmerizing. He slams about his life with captivating, unfiltered, lyrical poetry that forces you to listen. And he’s as prolific as he is profound: he writes about everything from poverty to fatherhood.
Venue in the ’Burbs
Armour Street Theatre
307 N. Armour St., Davidson
Opened in 2008, the intimate-yet-inviting Armour Street Theatre is home to not just some of the best theater performances in the ’burbs, but anywhere in the Charlotte area. That’s because it’s the permanent base of the Davidson Community Players, which consistently performs thought-provoking and engaging plays.
Open Mic Night
3227 N. Davidson St., 704-376-3737
Creating a good open mic night isn’t easy. The next act could be amazing or make you want to run out of the bar. The Evening Muse draws some of the city’s best and brightest new musicians. The shows, Mondays at 7 p.m., usually open with established acts, which raises the bar for anyone interested in taking the stage.
Blayr Nias (@GummyBlayr)
Comedienne Blayr Nias frets over her Twitter feed the way she would about an upcoming stand-up performance. She workshops her jokes and rewrites the ones she doesn’t think are perfect. Her hard work pays off, as her Twitter account is one of the funniest in the city. Bonus: she also provides an inside glimpse into Charlotte’s comedy world.
Playwright, Matt Cosper
A mad scientist who tweaks and reworks traditional narrative structure, Matt Cosper is the Charlie Kaufman of the Charlotte theater scene. Cosper is artistic director of The Machine, the best experimental theater company in the city. Currently, he’s working on a show that will incorporate games. By working in chance as a part of the show, every night will be new.
“I think it’s important to get that sense of danger and excitement back into experimental theater,” he says. “We’ve gotten so used to what to expect from story structure that it has become boring.”
Most recently he worked with Paperhouse Theatre, another local fringe company, to create Bohemian Grove, a Twin Peaks-style soap opera in which the theater was divided into four sections. A different element of the story played out in each section, and between scenes actors milled about among the crowd in character.
Cosper realizes that Charlotte isn’t exactly fertile ground for experimental theater. That’s what keeps him here. “Portland doesn’t need another experimental theater,” he says. “Charlotte does. We can build something here. Help create the scene from the ground up.”
Cosper supplements his income by freelance directing. He’ll helm Actor’s Theatre’s production of The Divine Sister in June. But he prefers to write his own plays. He enjoys playing around with the material and wouldn’t want to upset the intent of anyone else’s work.
This summer, Cosper will retreat with The Machine to cultivate new, mind-blowing ideas for next season. “I just want to throw some freak into the audience’s face,” he says with a laugh. “I want to give them something unique, something that might upset their perspectives.” —J. L.
Founded five years ago, the 16-member sketch collective Robot Johnson writes, produces, and performs the funniest sketch comedy in the city. The group’s monthly shows at Wine Up are packed with fans who are willing to follow this group to any weird corner of their imagination, trusting that a dramatic moment will be followed by a well-earned punch line. And you never know what’s next—between sketches, a cast member will often offer a killer parody song and monologue.
Since 1982, HeroesCon has been bringing the Bang!/Pop!/Slam! to the thousands of proud geeks who converge on the city for one of the country’s most beloved gatherings of comic book, science fiction, and fantasy fans. From Stan Lee (creator of Spider-Man, Iron Man, and others) to Lou Ferrigno (who starred in the original film version of Incredible Hulk), most of the big names have participated. Local artists also get a chance to show off and sell their work, making the June 7-9 convention not only a rallying point but also the engine for Charlotte’s comic-book and fantasy art community.
Isaac Payne is able to create an authentic feeling of life in a city on canvas: the architecture, the gritty reality, and the stark feelings of isolation and detachment amid the crowded landscape. A former McColl Center for Visual Art Artist in Residence, Payne leaves the figures in his work ambiguous and forces the viewers to project their own experiences and thoughts onto the familiar scenes.
Artsy Place to Take a Date
South End Gallery Crawl
No place in Charlotte has changed more in the past 10 years than South End. Once a wasteland of old office buildings, drab architecture, and empty warehouses, the area is now the city’s most engaging culture and arts community. The first Friday of every month, hundreds turn out to crawl South End’s dozen-plus galleries and sample the fare from a variety of food trucks, which gather at Camden Road and Park Avenue.
Place to Spot a Performer
1228 Gordon St., 704-333-4337
Walk into Snug Harbor any night of the week and you’re going to see a slice of Charlotte’s creative class having a drink. Snug Harbor hosts great live local music and encourages the performers to try new things. Great drink specials haven’t hurt business, either.
This Mount Holly–based hip-hop collective creates beats that rival anything coming from big-name producers. The group creates intricate layers that provide a subtext to their music, and its third album, 2012’s It’s On Us, is the best so far. Each song feels independent of the last, but the album doesn’t feel disjointed. Borrowing inspiration from Gang Starr, Beastie Boys, and Outkast, Mr. Invisible’s music has a familiar feel but a sound and style all their own.
Theatre With Staying Power
501 Queens Rd., 704-376-3777
Founded in 1927 in the Carnegie Library uptown, the Little Theater of Charlotte, as it was originally called, opened on Queens Road a day before the attack on Pearl Harbor. While many of its actors and crew went off to fight, the theater staged shows that entertained a stunned community. Seventy years later, TC is one of the most vibrant companies in town. In May, catch the foul-mouthed, hilarious puppets of Avenue Q.
Carolinas Aviation Museum
4672 1st Flight Dr., 704-997-3770
This gem features aircraft from the days of Kitty Hawk to today’s fighter jets. It’s also the final resting place for US Airways Flight 1529, better known as The Miracle on the Hudson.
Back Alley Films
Organizers of the Back Alley Film series always seem to find strange, surreal, and awesome movies to screen each month. They’re not worried about following a heady foreign film with the campy Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, nor are they afraid to celebrate Chuck Norris’s birthday with a 30th-anniversary edition of Lone Wolf McQuade. It’s hip, but not so hip that it’s open only to film snobs—therein lies its beauty.
Museum to Get You Out of Your Comfort Zone
Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. Seventh St., 704-333-1887
Levine Museum of the New South forces its audience to face the past. The exhibits are engaging and occasionally controversial but always thought-provoking.
Museum for Great Music, Interesting Films, and a Tasty Meal
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St., 704-353-9200
With the artwork, the music, the film series, and a fantastic café, it’s easy to turn an afternoon into an evening at the Bechtler.
Museum to Have Your Mind Blown
301 N. Tryon St., 704-372-6261
Nanoscience? Rainforest habitat? Lie on a bed of nails? Whether you’re eight or 80, you’ll find something here that will leave you awestruck.
500 S. Tryon St., 704-337-2000
A decade or so ago, the Mint Museum of Art seemed on the verge of irrelevance. But with the 2010 opening of the striking Levine Center for the Arts location, which incorporated the former Mint Museum of Craft + Design uptown, the Mint has reinvented itself, with engaging programs, innovative exhibitions (the current F.O.O.D., for one), and a stronger representation of its collection.
Tania Kelly, who was phenomenal in Stephen Seay Productions’s Matt and Ben, has an ease onstage that most actors and actresses spend years hoping to cultivate.
This lo-fi punk band is one of the most entertaining bands performing in Charlotte’s house party scene.
Up-and-Coming Theatre Space
3306-C N. Davidson St.
Michael Ford’s NoDa loft space has become one of the most interesting theater spaces in the city, hosting comedy shows, burlesque events, dance parties, poetry slams, and full-on theater productions.